The grief and disbelief at the murder of Grammy-nominated Los Angeles rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle continues to take hold. Among the mourners is Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, who put his feelings into action Tuesday night against the Lakers, recording only the second 20 point, 20 rebound, 20 assist game in NBA history, and the first since Wilt Chamberlain did it 51 years ago.
“That’s for Nipsey,” Westbrook shouted, pounding his chest as he dribbled upcourt after sealing the milestone by securing his 20th rebound, with forty seconds left to go in a game televised on TNT.
Born in Long Beach and raised in Hawthorne, Westbrook attended UCLA for two years and developed a friendship with Hussle because of their similar backgrounds. Westbrook arrived to the game sporting a blue T-shirt bearing Hussle’s signature Crenshaw brand moniker.
“He means everything,” Westbrook told the broadcast’s postgame interviewer. “Somebody I looked up to, somebody that paved the way for a guy like myself growing up in the inner city. To have those conversations with him. I’m just truly saddened by the situation. Just continue to pray for his family.”
Westbrook has made a habit of putting up double figure games in points, rebounds and assists, averaging what’s known as a “triple-double” for his third year in a row. (In NBA history only Oscar Robertson managed that for an entire season, just once.)
But Westbrook had grabbed 20 rebounds only once before and surpassed 20 assists just four times in his career. Beyond Wilt, no player has even had an 18-18-18 game, underlining the difficulty of the task. But Westbrook has 10 assists in the first quarter opening the door to the feat.
Westbrook was only the most flashy expression of the night. Others in the NBA also spoke of their sadness and condolences, such as Steph Curry, who had previously recorded a YouTube episode with Hussle, who was a big NBA fan and could often be found courtside at games.
Curry described Hussle’s shooting as one of those “tough, senseless crimes that don’t need to happen.” The Clippers’ Wilson Chandler tweeted that “People like Nip are never just what they do for a living. So much more man.” LeBron James posted a picture of Hussle on Instagram with the caption, “Just spoke with you the other day on text bro! Telling you how proud I was of you and how I was gone get you to more Laker games next season.”